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Bipartisan Immigration Bill Short a Pillar or Two

by | Feb 15, 2018 | Immigration

A group of Senators from both parties reached an agreement Wednesday on a new immigration bill that would both fulfill President Trump’s offer of a path to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers and grant his request for $25 billion for border security – including the wall. But as impressive as that might sound, it’s still a pillar or two short of the four-pillar bill the president required.

An Exercise in Compromise, If Nothing Else

Regardless of what Donald Trump wants to see in immigration reform, there’s no denying that this legislation represents some real give and take in Congress. Democrats want a path to citizenship for the DACA recipients commonly referred to as Dreamers. And many seem to want wholly unrestricted immigration as well. Republicans, on the other hand, want to halt, or at least slow, the flow of illegal aliens – that’s “undocumented citizens” for the social liberals out there – and tighten up border security. Hey, and don’t forget “build the wall.”

Despite the fact that the two dozen Senators – who call themselves the Common Sense Coalition – represent the portions of each party most centrist on the issue, there was still a considerable amount of compromise by both sides.

The proposal grants a ten to 12-year path to citizenship for 1.8 million DACA recipients, according to ABC News. It also places only light restrictions on chain migration – which Democrats call family reunification – and leaves the diversity lottery untouched. For the GOP, it means granting a path to citizenship for 1.8 illegal aliens without significant reform in the immigration process itself.

However, this bill would also grant $25 billion over ten years – $2.5 billion per year – for building the wall along the U.S.-Mexico line and other border security measures. This is precisely the amount President Trump requested. And, of course, the idea of having a physical barrier to keep illegals out is a tough pill to swallow for the open borders folk.

Close, But No Cigar?

But this all may be for naught. Wednesday morning, Trump released a statement urging Senators from both parties to support another immigration bill, proposed by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), and to abandon any that didn’t include the president’s desired four pillars. This measure hits two (and a half?) of the president’s four:

  1. Provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers: As Trump suggested, 1.8 million of them would be granted a ten to 12-year path to citizenship.
  2. Secure the border: The president asked for $25 billion over ten years for border security, including the funds for a wall, and this bill delivers precisely that.
  3. Eliminate the diversity visa lottery: While there was some discussion of changing this to a merit-based system, that idea was scrapped, and the lottery is left in place.
  4. Limit family-based immigration: Here’s the tricky one. The current version of the proposal stops DACA recipients from sponsoring their parents – but that’s it. It’s a limitation, but is it enough?

There are Senators on both sides of the aisle who are reluctant to support this bill because it falls short of what either side, individually, would consider a good deal – never mind ideal. And that’s understandable. It contains significant compromises from both viewpoints that must be tough to swallow. However, there are others who just don’t see any point in bothering with it, as they fear the president will veto it.

Regardless, the Common Sense Coalition is scrounging for votes – some believe they might hit the 60 vote minimum required to break a filibuster, others aren’t so sure. It’s expected a vote will be held Thursday. But will the president sign it? All signs point to maybe, maybe not. Donald Trump has issued what seem to be two conflicting statements. He told Congress he’d sign just about any immigration bill they sent him last month, then said he wouldn’t support anything that didn’t include all four pillars. Should this measure succeed in Congress, we’ll find out soon enough where the president stands.

Read More From James Fite

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